Entitlement is Optional

This has been reposted from Seth Godin’s blog published on 1/10/2017.

It’s not forced on us, it’s something we choose.

And we rarely benefit from that choice.

That emergency surgery, the one that saved your life, when the ruptured appendix was removed—the doctor left a scar.

We can choose to be grateful for our next breath.

Or we can find a way to be enraged, to point out that given how much it costs and how much training the doctor had, that scar really ought to be a lot smaller. And on top of that, he wasn’t very nice. We’re entitled to a nice doctor!

Or we can choose to be grateful.

Marketers have spent trillions of dollars persuading us that we can have it all, that we deserve it, and that right around the corner is something even better.

Politicians have told us that they’ll handle everything, that our pain is real and that an even better world is imminent.

And we believe it. We buy into our privilege as well as the expectation that our privilege entitles us to even more. It’s not based on status or reality. It’s a cultural choice.

And you’re entitled to your entitlement if you want it.

But why would you?

Entitlement gets us nothing but heartache. It blinds us to what’s possible. It insulates us from the magic of gratitude. And most of all, it lets us off the hook, pushing us away from taking responsibility (and action) and toward apportioning blame and anger instead.

Gratitude, on the other hand, is just as valid a choice. Except that gratitude makes us open to possibility. It brings us closer to others. And it makes us happier.

There’s a simple hack at work here: We’re not grateful because we’re happy. We’re happy because we’re grateful.

Everything could be better.

Not because we deserve it (we don’t, not really).

But because if we work at it, invest in it and connect with others around it, we can make it better. It’s on us.

It’s difficult work, counter-instinctual work that never ends.

But we keep trying. Because it’s worth it.

Stop complaining!!

Stop complaining!!! No one wants to hear it. If you think people do want to hear you bitch and complain, you are sorely mistaken. I had a great mentor tell me many years ago if I was just going to bitch and complain I needn’t enter his office, but if I had several probable solutions to the problem, we could talk all day.

Let’s talk for a minute why complaining isn’t an effective communication tool.

For one, I don’t want to hear it! No one wants to hear it!

Secondly, it doesn’t help! If you believe it does, please send me an email and let me know. I’ll have to give whatever trick you used to make the act of complaining successful a try. If it works for me I’ll add it to my bag of tricks. Until then, pull up your big boy or big girl pants and deal with the shit storm that can be your life.

Third, you sound like a big baby. I don’t want to be in the vicinity when you’re complaining because I want no one thinking I share your thoughts. I especially don’t want anyone thinking I share your form of ineffective communication.

Just so you know, you’re not anything special. You don’t hold the market on bad decisions, bad times, etc. So stop complaining and whining like you do. I said it before and I’ll say it again. In fact, I’ll keep saying it, “Life sucks sometimes!!!” The sooner you understand and accept that fact, the easier it becomes to seek help and move beyond.

Shit happens, and there are times during life where things don’t go our way. By the way whoever told you you would always get what you wanted when you want it lied to you. Maybe they simply didn’t have the balls to be honest with you. That sucks but it is what it is.

If you keep making bad decisions, stop making bad decisions. If you can’t figure out why you keep making bad decisions, ask for help but by God if you’re going to ask for help follow two simple suggestions. Number one be honest with the person who you are trusting to help you and number two, listen to them and do what they’re asking you to do. If you don’t want help because you’re so narcissistic as to believe that you are the only person on Earth to suffer from such injustices, get over it. If you come to see me for therapy, when I ask why you keep doing what you’re doing, please don’t respond with “I don’t know.” If you’re 10 this is an acceptable response. If you’re an adult I would hope by this time in your life you’ve given this some thought and you have a more intelligent response than “I don’t know.”

If you’re lazy and want to blame others for your life and decisions, see the first paragraph and pull up your big girl/big boy pants. Stop complaining others and grow up and accept the life decisions which you have made which are causing distress in your life. Stop bitching and complaining. I said it once already, life sucks sometimes. Make the best of it.

If you don’t like the people in your life, get rid of them. That also goes for family! And don’t complain to me how you can’t because you’ll hurt their feelings. Please!!

If you want to lose weight, stop blaming everyone for their bad habits which you  want to believe then causes your bad decisions. If you don’t want to be 400 lbs then stop eating and start exercising, watching what you eat and make the necessary behavioral changes in your life to get what you want from life. I once did therapy with a diabetic client who refused to acknowledge his behavior in his disease even after having both legs amputated and being in three diabetic comas.

Some of us allow ourselves to become so entrenched and attached to the negative ways of thinking that we don’t see a way out. Actually, we won’t allow ourselves to see a way out. Again, there is always help. You need to ask for it, be honest with the person you have chosen to trust to help you and by God, follow the often simple suggestions which they are giving you. You are given feedback based on what you are telling that individual. Remember; bad information in, bad information out!

3:00 AM

It’s 3:00 a.m. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been up since going to bed.

As I strip down to my boxers, I remove my shirt and instantly I begin to shake. Normally, the temperatures during winter do not bother me, but when I am sick my body responds very differently.

I jump into bed and pull blankets up to my chin in the hopes I can scare away the chill. The chill went away but the aches in my legs remain. I think about getting off to walk to the kitchen to get more Advil and quickly the thought gets pushed to the side. Another 30 minutes and the pain in my legs wins out. I rise, throw on a sweatshirt and run to the kitchen to grab a couple of Advil. I run back upstairs in the hopes that my body temperature will rise enough when I jump back in bed that any chills will not be present.

I feel like crap.  The common cold simply sucks.

It’s funny the thoughts that come into your head when you wake at 3:00 a.m. after four hours of sleep.

“Fuck I feel bad.”

“My head hurts.”

“I need more Advil.”

“I need chicken soup.”

Advil has done its job. I rose to shower and get ready to go to work. Breakfast was eaten simply to provide fuel for my body. There was no taste. Coffee is brewed, the smell which I can barely make out. Advil did the trick and the physical pain has been reduced to something which is almost nonexistent. My physical health now partially restored with hope the remainder of the day will bring more of the same.

I rose to shower and get ready to take on the day. Breakfast was eaten simply to provide fuel for my body. There was no taste. Coffee is brewed, the smell which I can barely make out. Advil did the trick and the physical pain has been reduced to something which is almost nonexistent. My physical health now partially restored with hope the remainder of the day will bring more of the same.

Breakfast was eaten simply to provide fuel for my body. There was no taste. Coffee is brewed, the smell which I can barely make out. Advil did the trick and the physical pain has been reduced to something which is almost nonexistent. My physical health now partially restored with hope the remainder of the day will bring more of the same.

There is knowledge which I find in illness. It is there for all of us to see if we choose. I will spend this day relaxing, writing and reading. Taking time for myself when so much is given to others.

Namaste

Life in Transformation

I greet you with hands clasped together in gratitude for this beautiful day.

Life is transformation. I can think of several individuals in my life who would disagree with this notion. Then again, those same individuals would disagree with just about any notion which identifies the personal responsibility with which we need to take to transform our lives.

I am coming up to the first scheduled day off since May. It’s been a long time I know. I’ll be heading back to the Adirondacks for some quiet time which will include a lot of reading, a lot of writing as I work toward completion of my book. This time will be punctuated with several sips of bourbon and some Puterkos Pizza.

Fall is upon us. The light of each day grows progressively shorter. We inch closer to the Winter Solstice. It’s that time of year when we begin to once again regain precious minutes of daylight. The calendar, at the same time, inching closer to the new arrival of Spring.

pens

I woke this morning to rays of beautiful sunshine peeking through the slats of the blinds. One of my joys is having an opportunity to wake without an alarm. Another joy are the beautiful sounds coming from the birds at the freshly filled feeder and the smell of freshly brewed coffee. It is these simple things which bring me the most joy. The joy I find in such simplicity reminds me not to take life too seriously, to not worry about the things which I cannot control and to live each day to its fullest.

“When you go out into the woods and you look at the trees, you see all these different trees and some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are green and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it, you see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans you lose all that. And you’re constantly saying “you are too this,” or “I am to this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees, which means appreciating them just the way they are.” ~Ram Dass

If you think that life is a journey to some sort of destination you could not be more wrong. I understand your thoughts right now because we have all heard the sayings on the t-shirts and bumper stickers which remind us that “life is a journey.” If we think of life as a journey then we keep going faster and faster to reach this unknown destination. Life is transformation. Life is a transformation. We are reminded of this every day while also being reminded of the opposite. We are constantly changing, evolving, and improving. Our growth has nothing to do with speed. In fact it often this need for speed, the need to reach a believed destination which causes us to stumble and make decisions which may not be in our best interest. We need to slow down and assess our direction. We need to ask ourselves what we are transforming into. Every Sunday I receive a text message that asks, “Slow down and ask what you have learned this past week?” What have I learned that can impede my transformation and which can help my transformation excel? Am I a better person today than I was yesterday? Better than last week, last month, last year?

chris

I use photography to help better understand the path on which I am on. I look at my photographs, camera in hand to see how I can see my life and its surroundings differently.

How do you see yourself? When you look at yourself, do yourself a favor and don’t blame others for the condition of your life. Your decisions are just that, your decisions. If you look to blame others, you will find the hole in which you are in become ever deepening. Accept responsibility for your actions. Ask for help from honest individuals and develop a plan that will help you achieve the goals which you have set.

Namaste

The Gospel of Nature

I greet you with hands clasped together in gratitude.

I am here.

I stopped by the Niagara River this evening with my journal in hand. I needed to see the sunset, to feel the warmth of the sun’s rays, to feel the breeze and listen to the sound of crickets as their music entertains my ears. Those things are integral to me and to my ability to feel grounded in the insanity with which we define our world.

In between peeks at the setting sun, I was reading an essay by John Burroughs called, “The Gospel of Nature.” I am struggling to maintain my focus as I read, the sounds of nature are overpowering but in a good way.

john

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.
A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.
Leap and the net will appear.” – John Burroughs

Recently we experienced a full moon, a Supermoon. The brilliance of the light reflected will provide enough light to continue to read but I decide against continuing to read and instead focus on my breath. I time my breath with the sound of water lapping at the shoreline.

Namaste

The Long Weekend

I greet you with both hands clasped together in gratitude.

I’m here. I arrived at my home away from home yesterday, the Adirondacks. I came “home” because I needed time to rebalance my life. This is the place where it is easiest for me. My phone does not usually work and there are many miles of hiking/running trails to be had within a few minutes drive.

adk

Puterko’s pizza was not to be had. The owners decided to take an ill-timed vacation. Their vacation was ill-timed in that I love this pizza and look forward to eating some slices when I arrive here. NY style pizza with the thinnest of crusts and delicious!!

I woke Saturday morning with the idea of revisiting some places within the Adirondack Park which I had not visited in several years. I look forward to fall every year. There is something magical in the colors which begin to slowly appear on the leaves of the trees which blanket the countryside. These same leaves, soon will fall from their perch and blanket the ground in those same bright colors. Those same colors will soon begin to fade and they will be forgotten with the first snow.

Henry David Thoreau says it best in his description of fall. “October is the month of painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year nears its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight.” – Henry David Thoreau

trees

My first stops were Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake. I stopped at one of my favorite put-ins on the Middle Saranac Lake and reminisced about past paddles on this lake. I stopped in Lake Placid for a quick visit. There is much history in this town with both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics being held. After a brief walk through town and a stop at a bookstore, I remembered what I struggle with when I visit this town. That memory was brought to the front of my memory when outside a wine store was a white Ferrari. Now I hold nothing against this beautiful car or its owner who I do not even know. It is the attitude of many of the visitors, visitors such as these with which I struggle. I took my book and made my way back to my car with a new destination in mind. As I walked, I enjoyed the light rain which fell giving the area a fresh scent.

As I walked briskly along the sidewalks in Lake Placid, this small town for which I have a love/hate relationship, I found anxiety beginning to rise. I needed to leave, to travel down the road and away from the throngs of people. I needed to return to the woods and the cathedral which is the woods with its silence and brilliant colors displayed for all who wish to see. Thoreau said, “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” I could not agree with this more.

I traveled to Whiteface Mountain and marveled at its beauty. The summit of the mountain was bathed in fog as the rain which has accompanied me since the start of this trip, remained. It was this rain and the accompanying temperatures which brought the fog. More beautiful memories were made this day. I remained at the base of the mountain not wanting to take the time to travel to its summit as “a lot of snow” was being forecast later in the day. Not to mention, I had a strong desire to return to the Ausable Chasm. I haven’t seen the chasm in all of it’s fall glory in several years and this was a sight I did not want to miss. Whiteface was otherwise bathed in the beautiful but fading colors of fall. The colors, had I arrived a week earlier and the sun had been shining would have been even more delightful to behold. Regardless, their beauty did captivate me. Several times I stopped in pull offs along the Ausable River to snap photos and to write in my journal.

wf

Not to mention, I had a strong desire to return to the Ausable Chasm. I haven’t seen the chasm in all of its fall glory in several years and this was a sight I did not want to miss. Whiteface was otherwise bathed in the beautiful but fading colors of fall. The colors had I arrived a week earlier and the sun had been shining would have been even more delightful to behold. Regardless, their beauty did captivate me. Several times I stopped in pull offs along the Ausable River to snap photos and to write in my journal.

journal

ausable

Driving back to Indian Lake from Ausable found rain continuing to fall. As I neared my final destination of the day, the rain became heavier and had begun to transform into sleet. Within several minutes the transformation was complete and it had begun to snow. My first snow of the year. I retired to my room to eat dinner, read and write. I heard a sound outside my window which carried with it the eerie feeling that winter in my neck of the woods would not be far behind. That sound was a plow clearing the street.

snow

On my solo drive home from the Adirondacks, I think about my return to my office feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I think about getting into a car again Friday evening, this time with company and traversing the highways as we travel to South Bend, Indiana to watch the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame take on Miami University.

go-irish

Namaste

Shinrin yoku

This post is reblogged from Scott Dunlap’s blog, “A Trail Runner’s Blog.”

Ever since I started trail running on a daily basis, I have felt a noticeable improvement in my well-being. I feel less stressed, I get sick less often, and I’ve found a spiritual calm that keeps my optimism brimming through the seasons. Many of you have shared similar experiences, and one has to look no farther than the smiles at the finish of a trail race (and growth of the sport) to know it is pervasive. That magical combo of exercise and the great outdoors creates a meditative synergy that works wonders for the soul, and we just can’t get enough.

We aren’t the only ones tapping into the healing powers of the outdoors, it appears. Japanese doctors, long time proponents of meditation and exercise, have been taking a closer look at the power of forests. The Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or “forest bathing”, involves contemplative walks through the woods to reconnect with nature, and has proven to lead to decreased stress, natural mood elevation, and even a stronger immune system. Take a luxurious walk, engage all five senses, inhale the “phytoncides” emitted by plants, and your body and soul get stronger.

The Japanese government continues to investigate and promote the healing properties of nature. One study conducted across 24 forests in Japan found that when people strolled in a wooded area, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol plummeted almost 16 percent more than when they walked in an urban environment. Even after just 15 minutes of walking, subjects’ blood pressure showed improvement. But one of the biggest benefits may come from breathing in those chemicals called phytoncides, emitted by trees and plants. Women who logged two to four hours in a forest on two consecutive days saw a dramatic reduction of stress hormones and a nearly 40 percent surge in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells.

In one of my favorite parts of the studies, research has shown that the emotions of pleasure and happiness are elevated with an increase in tree density within specific settings, even in urban settings. The bigger and denser the trees, the higher the scenic beauty scores. Yup, that sounds about right! I suspect this also contributes to the sense of awe that we feel when immersed in the grandiosity of Mother Nature.

Perhaps this is just confirming what we all intuitively know. Get outside, engage with nature, and you will feel healthier and more connected. As silly as it sounds to say “forest bathing”, it feels accurate! It’s also a good reminder we don’t always need to always be running, and that a 15-minute stroll is more than enough to improve your day. I’ll be taking a few pauses on my runs this week to make sure all five senses are fully engaged. Smell the pines, taste the pollen in the air, feel the ferns, hear the creeks, watch the butterflies….you know, take a forest bath.